GLUTAMINE Overview Information
Glutamine is an amino acid (a building block for proteins), found naturally in the body.
Glutamine is used to counter some of the side effects of medical treatments. For example, it is used for side effects of cancer chemotherapy including diarrhea, pain and swelling inside the mouth (mucositis), nerve pain (neuropathy), and muscle and joint pains caused by the cancer drug Taxol. Glutamine is also used to protect the immune system and digestive system in people undergoing radiochemotherapy for cancer of the esophagus. Additionally, glutamine is used for improving recovery after bone marrow transplant or bowel surgery, increasing well-being in people who have suffered traumatic injuries, and preventing infections in critically ill people.
Some people use glutamine for digestive system conditions such as stomach ulcers, ulcerative colitis, and Crohn’s disease. It is also used for depression, moodiness, irritability, anxiety, insomnia, and enhancing exercise performance.
People who have HIV (AIDS) sometimes use glutamine to prevent weight loss (HIV wasting).
Glutamine is also used for attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a urinary condition called cystinuria, sickle cellanemia, and for alcohol withdrawal support.
Glutamine powder can be ordered through most wholesale drug suppliers. Glutamine for commercial use is made by a fermentation process using bacteria that produce glutamine.
How does it work?
Glutamine is the most abundant free amino acid in the body. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. Glutamine is produced in the muscles and is distributed by the blood to the organs that need it. Glutamine might help gut function, the immune system, and other essential processes in the body, especially in times of stress. It is also important for providing "fuel" (nitrogen and carbon) to many different cells in the body. Glutamine is needed to make other chemicals in the body such as other amino acids and glucose (sugar).
After surgery or traumatic injury, nitrogen is necessary to repair the wounds and keep the vital organs functioning. About one third of this nitrogen comes from glutamine.
If the body uses more glutamine than the muscles can make (i.e., during times of stress), muscle wasting can occur. This can occur in people with HIV/AIDS. Taking glutamine supplements might keep the glutamine stores up.
Some types of chemotherapy can reduce the levels of glutamine in the body. Glutamine treatment is thought to help prevent chemotherapy-related damage by maintaining the life of the affected tissues.
Possibly Effective for:
- Soreness and swelling inside the mouth, caused by chemotherapy treatments for cancer. Glutamine doesn’t seem to reduce pain and swelling for all chemotherapy patients, and it’s not clear which patients are likely to benefit. Some researchers suspect that patients who don’t have enough glutamine to start with are most likely to be helped. Some studies are being planned to test this idea.
- Improving well-being in people with traumatic injuries, when included in a formula used for nutrition. There is some evidence that glutamine keeps bacteria from moving out of the intestine and infecting other parts of the body after major injuries.
- Treating weight loss and intestinal problems in people with HIV disease (AIDS). Taking glutamine by mouth seems to help HIV/AIDS patients absorb food better and gain weight. Doses of 40 grams per day seem to produce the best effect.
Possibly Ineffective for:
- A urinary problem called cystinuria.
- An intestinal condition called Crohn’s disease.
- Improving exercise performance.
- Rehydrating infants with severe diarrhea.
- Muscle and joint pains caused by the drug paclitaxel (Taxol, used to treat cancer). There is some evidence that glutamine might help to reduce muscle and joint pains caused by paclitaxel.
- Reducing damage to the immune system during cancer treatment. Research findings are contradictory.
- Diarrhea resulting from treatment with anti-cancer drugs. There is some evidence that glutamine might help to prevent diarrhea after chemotherapy, but not all research findings agree.
- Nutrition problems after major gut surgery (short bowel syndrome). Researchers have studied whether glutamine combined with growth hormone is effective in treating short bowel syndrome. This combination seems to help some patients become less dependent on tube feeding. Glutamine alone doesn’t seem to be effective.
- Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
- Stomach ulcers.
- Ulcerative colitis.
- Sickle cell anemia.
- Treating alcoholism.
- Other conditions.
GLUTAMINE Side Effects & Safety
Glutamine is POSSIBLY SAFE for most adults and children when taken by mouth, but the potential side effects of glutamine are not known.
Adults should avoid using more than 40 grams of glutamine daily. Children, age 3 to 18, should not be given doses that are larger than 0.65 grams per kg of weight per day. Not enough is known about the safety of higher doses in children.
Special Precautions & Warnings:Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Not enough is known about the use of glutamine during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.
Severe liver disease with difficulty thinking or confusion (hepatic encephalopathy): Glutamine could make this condition worse. Don’t use it.
Monosodium glutamate (MSG) sensitivity (also known as "Chinese restaurant syndrome"): If you are sensitive to MSG, you might also be sensitive to glutamine, because the body converts glutamine to glutamate.
Mania, a mental disorder: Glutamine might cause some mental changes in people with mania. Avoid use.
Seizures: There is some concern that glutamine might increase the likelihood of seizures in some people. Avoid use.
Moderate Interaction Be cautious with this combination
- Lactulose interacts with GLUTAMINE
Lactulose helps decrease ammonia in the body. Glutamine is changed into ammonia in the body. Taking glutamine along with lactulose might decrease the effectiveness of lactulose.
- Medications for cancer (Chemotherapy) interacts with GLUTAMINE
There is some concern that glutamine might decrease the effectiveness of some medications for cancer. But it is too soon to know if this interaction occurs.
- Medications used to prevent seizures (Anticonvulsants) interacts with GLUTAMINE
Medications used to prevent seizures affect chemicals in the brain. Glutamine may also affect chemicals in the brain. By affecting chemicals in the brain, glutamine may decrease the effectiveness of medications used to prevent seizures.
Some medications used to prevent seizures include phenobarbital, primidone (Mysoline), valproic acid (Depakene), gabapentin (Neurontin), carbamazepine (Tegretol), phenytoin (Dilantin), and others.
The following doses have been studied in scientific research:
- For reducing mouth soreness due to chemotherapy: glutamine suspension 4 grams, swish and swallow every four hours around the clock starting with the first dose of chemotherapy and continued until hospital discharge or resolution of symptoms.
- For HIV wasting: 8-40 grams per day has been used. However, 40 grams daily may work best.